As part of the School Food Plan, a new set of standards for all food served in schools was launched by the Department for Education. They become mandatory in all maintained schools, and new academies and free schools from January 2015. The new standards were designed to make it easier for school cooks to create imaginative, flexible great tasting and nutritious menus. The standards cover school lunch, breakfast tuck and afterschool clubs.

The standards are intended to help children develop healthy eating habits and ensure that they get the energy and nutrition they need across the whole school day. It is important for schools to provide a wide range of foods across the week whether it is different fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses or types of meat and fish.  It is just as important to cook food that looks and tastes good, to talk to children about what is on offer and recommend dishes, to reduce queuing and to serve the food in a pleasant environment where they can eat with their friends (School Food Plan 2013).

The School Food Plan has produced practical guidance to help school leaders and governing bodies adopt a whole school approach to food, create a culture and ethos of healthy eating and meet the statutory requirements.

The Department of Education also produced some departmental advice for governing bodies in 2016: School Food in England.  This advice will help when planning and providing food in schools. It explains how legislation applies to food provided within schools in England. It outlines the role of school governing bodies, and stipulates the legal requirements for food provided across the school day. It uses the term ‘must’ when the person in question is legally required to do something and ‘should’ when advice is being offered.  The advice is for governing bodies of the following schools:

  • Maintained primary
  • Maintained secondary
  • Maintained special
  • Maintained nursery
  • Maintained boarding
  • Pupil Referral Units
  • Academies that opened prior to 2010 and academies and free schools entering into a funding agreement from June 2014
  • Non-Maintained special schools

Why do we have a national School Food Plan?

This short introductory video explains the rationale behind the 2013 School Food Plan.

What's important to children?

In this short film, children from Seaham School in Durham share what they value about school meals - good food, attractive environment, social life and price.